The Roman Catholic Church hailed UNESCO’s decision to grant the world heritage status to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. According to the Vatican authorities, the UN decision is a “diplomatic victory” for the Palestinian Authority. Last Friday, the United Nations approved the Palestinian bid to place Jesus’ birthplace on its list of sites of World Heritage in danger. Israel called the decision “absurd” and “a sad day.”
The Palestinian agenda at UNESCO is the de-Judaization of the land of Israel by Islamicizing the holy sites. Oras Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian minister who deals with antiquities and gets funds from UNESCO, made clear, “it’s writing or rewriting the history of Palestine.” Less known is that the Vatican institutions are collaborating with the Palestinian autocracy.
The Vatican already declared its support of waving a Palestinian flag over the Temple Mount in the heart of ancient Jerusalem. Next in line is Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem, Judaism’s third most holy site, which for millennia has served as a place of longing, pilgrimage and prayer for the Jewish people. In 1996, Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority began referring to the site as the “Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque,” and this is how UNESCO shamefully listed it in 2010.
Many Catholic groups worldwide already embraced the Palestinian myth. Pax Christi, one of the most famous Catholic organizations, on its website, repeatedly calls the Jewish site a “mosque.” Then there is the Bethlehem University of the Holy Land, the only Vatican-run educational institution in the area and whose founding can be traced back to the visit of Pope Paul VI in the holy land in 1964. The Catholic University recently launched a project about the Rachel’s Tomb. The document calls it “a historical religious site for followers of Christianity and Islam,” whose location is “on Palestinian lands.” The Vatican institution seems to ignore that all of Rachel’s Tomb belongs to Area C, which the Oslo Accords gave to Israeli jurisdiction. The very title of the Catholic project, “Rachel: An Alien in her Hometown,” suggests that the tomb is a spot hijacked by the Israelis. The tomb, the Catholic report says, “is also known by Muslims as the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque.” According to the Vatican university, the Jewish shrines are Arab treasures stolen by the Zionists and the Israelis are no more than invading colonizers.
A few months ago, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, welcomed enthusiastically the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, despite both the PLO and Hamas covenants' call for the use of violence against the Jews. Last September, Patriarch Twal, named by Pope Benedict XVI, was at the White House for a meeting with the American administration -- as well as for the purpose to support the PA statehood bid at the UN.
Last January eight Catholic bishops from Europe and North America, including UK Archbishop Patrick Kelly and French Archbishop Michel Dubost, visited Gaza under Hamas control. “I asked prisoners in the largest prison in Europe (in Evry) to pray for you,” Dubost told Gazans. The inference is clear: Palestinians are living in a big prison terrified by Israel. In the same period, Father Manuel Musalam, head of Gaza’s Catholics, met with Hamas leader, Mahmoud al Zahar, and declared that “Christians are not threatened by Muslims” but that everyone faces the same problem, that of Israel’s “humiliation.”
A few weeks earlier, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales offered the Palestinians another piece of powerful propaganda: the comparison with Jesus’ passion. “We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort,” Archbishop Vincent Nichols said during his last Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral. “A shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight … We pray for them tonight” It would have been more in keeping with Nicholas’ mission to mention hundreds of Christians losing their lives to Islamic terrorism and oppressed by Palestinian dictatorship.
The Palestinian-Vatican pact is part of a bigger scenario, in which the Catholic Church is adopting a tragic appeasement on Islam. As the brave Andrew Bostom explained, the Vatican embraced “groveling Islamophilia, accompanied by criticism of the U.S. ‘war on terrorism’ as an ‘injustice’ to Muslims, and constant scapegoating of Israel, often expressed with strident animus towards the Jewish State.”
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is known for having a pro-Islam position, has been appointed by Pope Benedict as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. In a letter addressing his “Dear Muslim friends,” Tauran asked for Islamic help to form an alliance against atheism. The Vatican promoted “Love of God, Love of Neighbor,” the first three-day forum with Islamic leaders. The Pope agreed to meet one of the most dangerous Islamists in the Western world, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan - the Swiss scholar who denies Israel’s right to life and who has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists.
Bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, announced that the Vatican is in favor of building new mosques in Europe. Then the European Bishops met with European Muslims in Turin (Cardinal Tauran was also present) to proclaim the need for the “progressive enculturation of Islam in Europe” (read it: the Islamization of the old continent).
In the last year the Vatican also built a strong friendship with Iranian authorities and clergy. The Holy See’s course with Iran’s Ahmadinejad began in 2009 at the United Nations, when at the first day of the “Durban II” Conference, the Iranian president made a speech blasting Israel as “totally racist” and referred to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question.” When Ahmadinejad began his rant against the Jews, all the European delegates left the conference room. The Vatican delegation didn’t say a word.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, head of the Lebanon’s Catholic Church, then sent his envoy, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, to Teheran for a conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada and of a “Zionist-free middle east.” The conference was attended also by Hezbullah ideologue, Mohammad Raad, and by the Hamas’ leader Meshaal.
A few days before that, a delegation of clergy members of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly visited the Vatican in Rome. They met with top Catholic officials. The Iranian delegation also paid visits to several academic and scientific centers in the Vatican.
Receiving the new apostolic nuncio to Tehran, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, Ahmadinejad called the Vatican a positive force for justice and peace in the world. Vatican representatives met with Muslim leaders from around the world in Teheran for “a three-day interreligious dialogue” and announced the cooperation “in the search for the common good.”
Tauran also went to Teheran to praise Iran’s “spirit of cordiality” and “the friendly Ahmadinejad,” despite the allegation, according to the annual list compiled by Open Doors International, Iran is the second worst persecutor of Christians in the world. The Vatican delegation also visited the city of Qom, a Shi’ite spiritual center in Iran where the Iranian scientists are enriching uranium at military levels.
Ahmadinejad sent a high-level delegation to Rome, headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, the president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization in Tehran, a former foreign minister and one of Ahmadinejad’s trusted men and “spiritual advisers.”
Like Pope Pius XII’s silence during the Holocaust, the Vatican’s submission to Islamic regimes, along with its anti-Zionist policy, will be remembered as one of the greatest moral failings of the 21st Century.
Et Papa tacet.
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